Carelessness, Coupons, And Cake– OH MY!

It would seem that at some point in the recent past we stole our neighbor’s mail.  Well, we didn’t intentionally steal it as much as we accidentally acquired their mail.

My defense for this lapse is that we aren’t mail thieves, per se, as much as distracted, pre-elderly homeowners who assume any and all mail in our mailbox is, indeed, our mail.

But that assumption would be wrong. Oh yes, so wrong.

In fact, I wouldn’t have noticed this theft accidental acquirement if not for the good old coupons.  You know, the paper kind that come in the mail IF you’re a Kroger Plus Customer.

I’m talking about the ones that are specifically sent to you because you buy the same stuff over and over.

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Look at those shopping carts all lined up. So tidy.  {Photo via Pixabay by Michael Gaida}

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IT’S LIKE THIS, my gentle readers: the other day I went to get our mail from our mailbox and I see that our monthly Kroger Plus Customer coupon envelope is among the letters/junk mail in my hand.  I go inside the house, open the envelope, whereupon I feast my eyes on our very special and specific coupons.

[Some of which are for FREE money off your order if you spend a certain amount of money at the checkout.  This is normal.]

But it dawns on me that just a few days before Zen-Den had retrieved the mail from the mailbox, opened what he assumed was our Kroger Plus Customer envelope and left the coupons on the kitchen counter for me to file.

Which I hadn’t done yet.

Suddenly I start looking at these coupons on the counter, thinking how peculiar it is that we have coupons for Hubba Bubba bubble gum, and Annie’s Organic Cinnamon Rolls with Icing, and Simply Potatoes frozen potatoes. Items we don’t buy. Ever.

[I also notice that the FREE coupons are for things like Betty Crocker cake mix, not for FREE money.  That’s not our normal.]

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Look at Barney Kroger, founder of the Kroger supermarket chain. So dapper.  {photo source here via Library of Congress}

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SLOWLY IT DAWNS on me that the coupons we have sitting on our kitchen counter are someone else’s coupons.  And because the envelope that these coupons came in is long gone, there’s no way to return the coupons to them.

Meaning, of course, that we, the Beans, jointly and severally, are miscreants of the lowest order, stealing [acquiring?] grocery coupons from our neighbors, like we’re two addled-brained overwrought suburbanites without the sense to read the front of an envelope.

Which clearly we are… but does not necessarily mean that we’re above using an accidentally acquired coupon to get a free box of cake mix.

Because, you know, CAKE!

A Refreshing Conversation With An Older Gentleman Who Takes Life In Stride

“Sometimes you’re the windshield, Sometimes you’re the bug…” 

I was listening to an older acquaintance chuckle as he told me about a scam he’d gotten caught up in.  He understood what had happened and how it’d happened.

After some research and many phone calls, he’d extracted himself from the scam and was a few hundred dollars poorer because of it.

He told me that in retrospect he realized that the whole mess was less about him being stupid, than about the scam being slick and sophisticated, taking advantage of his trusting nature + his unfamiliarity with certain details.

No surprise there, eh?

But what struck me about this conversation, that was more like a monologue, was that this older gentleman telling me this story wasn’t bitter about what had happened.  There was not one ounce of “I’m a victim” or “I blame _____” going on with this guy.

Instead, he was telling his story as a cautionary tale.  All he needed was for someone to listen and understand his predicament– and for someone to tell him that he “done good” solving the problem himself.

All of which got me thinking…

When was the last time you were part of a conversation like this one?  SERIOUSLY, when did you last listen to someone who had been taken advantage of– and who wasn’t whining and emoting about the unfairness of it all?

Someone who was behaving like an adult who grasped the fact that in the rhythm of life not everything works out as planned– and that’s ok, too, because if you’re smart, you learn from it and move on.

Like this older gentleman did, in his quiet self-deprecating way.

Let The Remodeling Wild Ride Begin, Part 1 Of 2

WHEN I STARTED THIS blog years ago my intention was to write 80% about how we were updating our house + garden, then 20% about topics I was researching.  I thought this would be more of a design + information blog, rather than a lifestyle journal-ish blog.

Well, that idea fell apart, didn’t it?

Early on I discovered that:

  1. Even though I’m passionate about design, I don’t like writing about the involved decision-making process that goes on within all decorating +  remodeling projects.  I feel clunky and stressed when I try to write about design.
  2. Even though I enjoy photographing nature and signs and building exteriors, I end up swearing at my camera when I attempt to take pics of inside rooms.  I don’t have an eye for design photography, and my poor camera takes the brunt of my frustration.
  3. Even though I had some fun blog followers who were interested in our ongoing home improvement stories, they, to a one, stopped keeping blogs and drifted away from  the blogosphere.  I now have more wordy followers who groove on topics other than design.

So I had a little sit down chit-chat with myself to reassess what I was doing here, realizing that my most popular fun-to-write blog posts were personal, often about my observations regarding the wack-o-ness of people OR about small glimpses into the ordinariness of my daily life.

And then, I pretty much stopped writing about or photographing what we’re doing around the house.  No one cared, and I didn’t mind not writing about the angsty-ness and minutiae of design projects.

However…

[Part 2 will be tomorrow.]

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No Horses. No History. Just Happiness Courtesy Of The Blue Sky Above.

When it’s a glorious day outside and it comes to finding something to photograph, I’m nothing if not persistent.

•  PLAN A: HORSES  I drove to the horse vet wanting to photograph the horses that are usually standing around in his fields. However, when I got there not one horse was anywhere to be seen, so I kept driving.

•  PLAN B: HISTORY  I drove to a tiny 200-year-old village that, when photographed while standing on its bridge over the river, would make for an interesting photo.  However, when I got there the river was high, the sidewalks were muddy, and the wind was gusting.  Standing on the bridge didn’t seem safe to me, so I decided to go someplace else.

•  PLAN C: HAPPINESS  Dreamed up on the fly, I decided to drive to the canoe rental place and walk the bike path that runs by the canoe rental place, using the opportunity to photograph the blue sky above and whatever might be underneath it.  As the following four photos show, this plan worked.

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What To Do When The Gift Of Your Attention Is Thrown Away

[Subtitled: When Expectations & Reality Do Not Align In Interpersonal Communication Exchanges]

[Sub-subtitled: People Suck, Don’t Take It Personally]

A CONVERSATION WITH a genuinely nice friend who is snitified about, of all things, Christmas cards.  Sending of said. Receipt of said. Subsequent action taken [or not taken] as result of receipt of said.

The conversation covered the following points:

  1. sending a card is optional;
  2. sending a card is giving the recipient the gift of your attention;
  3. sending a card does not obligate the recipient to send one back to you, but it’s delightful if they do;
  4. discovering that recipient has sent cards to other people, but not you, is your cue to ______ ?

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-1-37-41-pmWHILE THE SPECIFICS of this conversation were about Christmas cards, as we talked I realized that this gift of attention scenario plays out in other areas of our lives.

For instance, what do you make of someone, a friend &/or family member, who you send friendly texts to, but they never include you in the texting and photo sharing that they do with everyone else in your group?

Or to put it in blogging terms, how do you deal with someone who allows your comments to show up on their blog, then never bothers to respond to you, while publicly talking with all the other commenters on their blog?

To be fair, I truly don’t know if these people who throw away the gift of your attention are even aware that they are doing so.  They could be clueless.  They could be crazy.  Who know?

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-1-38-27-pmBUT THE THING is, people like my friend notice this sneaky ungrateful behavior, and it hurts them.

She’s a person who sincerely believes that you need to model the behavior you want to see in others, so that they may learn from your example.  This means that for her, when someone ignores her, she is flummoxed about how to react.

That is, in this specific case, should she continue to send the card because she is remaining true to her values by showing the recipient the way to live?

Or should she acknowledge that the recipient doesn’t care about their relationship, as shown by the recipient’s behavior– and give up on this person altogether?

I know what my answer is, but for some people this is a difficult decision to make.

Meandering Thoughts About Reading Books & The Nature Of Failure

WOULDN’T IT BE WONDERFUL IF I COULD tell you that I succeeded in doing Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 reading challenge?  The one I talked about here.

And wouldn’t it be equally wonderful if I were to write brief reviews of the 12 books I read, as I planned to do last January, vis-à-vis this annual challenge?

WELL, I DIDN’T READ ALL THE BOOKS that I thought I would because I got caught up in reading about politics online and in the newspapers, as one does when “fascism,” Merriam-Webster’s presumed word of the year, is knocking on the door.

So yes, I HAVE FAILED in my stated goal. But in the whole scheme of things I AM BETTER INFORMED about what matters now. So have I failed, or have I adapted?  

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AND IT’S NOT LIKE I DIDN’T READ any books at all, meaning that I can still share with you, my gentle readers, a few books, written by new-to-me authors, whose thoughts and style made for interesting reading.

Thus, without further ado, moving beyond the foregoing flapdoodle and twaddle, what I want to tell you is: here are three books I read in 2016 and enjoyed.

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#1

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

This is a story about identity, the shifting nature of it, and the implications of learning someone is not who they say they are.  The story moves seamlessly among three different eras: present day England, 1960s England, and WWII London.  I found the characters compelling, the plot fascinating, and the settings atmospheric.

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#2

Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge

This is a story, that is more charming than it sounds on the surface, about a rich older woman with Alzheimer’s who lives in a small town.  One day she decides to sell her stuff and the town goes bonkers as she unloads her possessions, each of which has a story of its own to tell.  There is drama and familial tension, of course, but the real subject of this novel is: do we own our stuff or does it own us?

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#3

Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan

This is a delightful memoir that I couldn’t put down.  In it the author, a lawyer practicing in DC, talks candidly and hilariously about her experiences as a temporary receptionist for her father’s medical practice in rural Tennessee.  She does this to help her family through a difficult time, spending a year working for her father, and in the process learns about true heroes, batshit crazy small town people, and what is important in life.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

Have you, like me, failed to read all the books that you thought you would read this year? If so, how do you feel about it? If not, please tell us how you accomplished your reading goals. No doubt we all could benefit from your wisdom.

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I Am Clumsy But With My Priorities In The Right Place

I fell on my face at Goodwill. Literally.

On a beautiful sunny afternoon, I parked in front of the donation door at our local Goodwill.  I started pulling items out of the trunk of my car, and was carrying two folding chairs, one in each hand, when I tripped over a 3″ high little curb painted a jazzy shade of yellow.

And with that I face-planted myself on the cement sidewalk.

Save for a small scratch on the little finger side of my left hand & a scrape on the top of my right ankle, I didn’t hurt myself.  I went down too quickly to even tense up, plus I’m somewhat plump in my older years which helped keep me safe.

I kind of bounced more than I splatted.

I’ll admit that it was a fascinating experience to calmly realize that I was falling face down onto the sidewalk with no way to stop myself.  No one near me to catch me.

Just me on my own, falling down. Unceremoniously.

And what was going through my addled brain as this was happening?  Well, to be honest, and you wouldn’t want me to be anything but that, I was thinking: “Hmmm… well at least this will make for a good story.”

Yep, no need to worry about me, my gentle readers, I have my priorities in order.

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{ via Giphy}